Squirrels Growing Up Wild
Tiny and pink to fluffy and orange!
When these tiny baby squirrels first arrived at WildCare's Wildlife Hospital, we could only guess at their actual species.
When any baby squirrel is this small, pink and helpless, it's virtually impossible to tell if they'll grow up to be a gray Western Gray Squirrel, a brown Eastern Gray or an orange-tinted Fox Squirrel.
The homeowner who found them said she had both Fox Squirrels and Eastern Gray Squirrels in her yard, so we understood they could be either.
We knew that they were squirrels, and that they definitely needed help.
Their nest had been cut from a tree by a tree trimmer who didn't check for nests before cutting.
The nest plummeted to the ground, leaving the baby squirrels helpless and squeaking in the dirt. All three babies had significant bruising when they arrived at WildCare.
WildCare's friends on Facebook have watched these babies grow up in a series of "Squirrel Thursday" livestreams showcasing them (reproduced here).
Be sure to "like" WildCare's Facebook page to see wonderful photos, enjoy entertaining videos like these and more! facebook.com/WildCareBayArea
A WildCare Squirrel Foster Care Team member, Rachel, volunteered to take the tiny babies home and give them the specialized (and exhausting!) care they would need to survive being orphaned at such a young age.
For the first few nights, these baby squirrels were fed every TWO HOURS, around the clock. Getting them accustomed to the special squirrel formula on which they would be raised in our care is always a challenge, especially when the babies are newborn, and the frequent feedings are necessary to give them enough calories and hydration.
Fortunately, after the initial few nights, Rachel could go to feeding her charges every three hours. That must have felt like a comparative luxury!
Fast forward nearly three weeks, and it's obvious these orphaned squirrels have done very well in care.
In the video above you can see they now have fur, their eyes are almost ready to open (baby squirrels open their eyes for the first time at about four weeks of age) and they're silky, plump and completely healthy.
As their fur grew in, and they started to develop very characteristic orange bellies, it became clear that these were, in fact, Fox Squirrels! Fox Squirrels are the largest species of squirrel that lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, and they're also a distinctive red-orange in coloring, which makes them easy to identify.
The video above shows our baby squirrels on August 4. They are still being bottle fed and stimulated to urinate and defecate, but they're very close to opening their eyes.
At the time of this video, Rachel, their foster care provider, was feeding them every four hours, but she no longer had to wake up throughout the night to care for them. At this age, baby squirrels get a feeding at midnight, and then not another one until morning.
You'll notice these videos are quite long in duration... that's because they were steamed live to Facebook viewers! "Like" WildCare's Facebook page to see our next livestreams! facebook.com/WildCareBayArea
Once baby squirrels in care at WildCare open their eyes, they seem to start developing exponentially quickly.
They move from a small carrier to a larger wire cage and we start introducing them to the foods they'll eat as adult squirrels.
These young squirrels also have less and less contact with their foster care mom (or any humans), to make sure they become completely wild.
In the video above, you can see that Rachel's three orphans are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed! It is such a pleasure for WildCare staff and volunteers to see injured, helpless orphans like these squirrels were when they first arrived turn into such handsome healthy juveniles!
The next steps for these young squirrels will be to move from their large wire cage to a larger outdoor enclosure.
There they will develop their climbing and jumping skills, and learn how to build nests and crack nuts.
Once these young squirrels demonstrate that they are completely self-feeding and able to build a warm nest for sleeping, they will be released to the wild.
I’m a former rehabilitator and my favorite critters were squirrels (eastern grey here). I loved watching your videos of the three baby squirrels! Brought back lots of happy memories!
Wildcarebayarea.org is a wonderful informative site. I know you will enjoy receiving their newsletters as much as I do.
I used to foster baby squirrels for Wildcare years ago and it was such satisfying work! The babies were so adorable and it was a sad but happy day when they were fully able to return to their wild life.
Thank you Rachel and Wildcare for taking care of these babies. Since I am the homeowner who found the babies, can I please clarify that while their nest was indeed, knocked down, the trees were not cut down. We have many squirrels that live on our property and we did not know it was still baby season. Lesson learned, The trees trimmed were very tall eucalyptus, with very dense upper foliage. There were nests visible in surrounding oaks, that were untouched. We were all very sad that these babies were thrown from their nests and, with guidance from Wildcare we did indeed try to reunite them with the mother, but all of the continuing tree trimming through the day made it difficult and simply did not think to ask the tree trimmers to stop their work so the mom could relocate her babies. We kept them outside in an oak nearby, but there was simply too much activity that must have prevented the mom from feeling safe to return. I kept them warm together in a basket, checked on them through the night keeping them warm inside our house and tried in early morning again to reunite, but too much time was passing and I could not keep them outside unattended any longer, as they were getting too cold. We appreciate Wildcare taking care of these little ones and generally try to be good stewards to the animals that share our property. Even the squirrels who destroyed all of our outdoor furniture cushions when they discovered how wonderful the filling was to use in their nests has not hardened us to these little rascals.
We are very grateful they have survived and appreciate Wildcare’s mission and all the dedicated volunteers.
Thank you Carol! I apologize for misrepresenting the tree work done! You did a wonderful thing rescuing these babies, and we know how hard you tried to reunite them with their mother. You did so well keeping them warm and safe during the reunite attempts, and we’re so grateful you called WildCare to help them! Your support of the creatures that share your yard is heartening (squirrels do love cushion stuffing), and I hope readers will appreciate your efforts, and share your care and concern for these babies and wildlife everywhere.
ALL OF OF YOU ARE HEROES AMONGST US…CAROL AND WILDCARE… AND WE ARE ETERNALLY GRATEFUL TO EACH AND EVERYONE OF YOU!! THANK YOU!!!